Tag Archives: The Innovation

Managers who coach and lead

Managers in the social impact sector are overworked, under high degrees of stress and pressure to achieve results, and have to keep thinking about how to make sure projects show evidence of change and value for money.

This isn’t easy, as often we are expected to do more, and to reach more people, with less funding.

It may lead, perhaps, to a more evaluative form of management and feedback, and probably to an aversion to risking trying new ideas. It’s hard.

But what if in 2021 we focused more on people than results?

What if we focused on coaching our teams in the true form of coaching? Not career coaching, but coaching to help them take the lead and facilitate the teams’ ideas – truly listening to what they have to say.

It may take longer – at first – to give them this time and support – but the rewards and possibilities will be worth it.

  • What went well?
  • What was a challenge for you?
  • What else? (My favourite question)
  • What does success look like? (Future focused)
  • What does support look like? (Future focused)

Join us on The Innovation, our online community of change-makers, to connect with others and discuss important topics including leadership and anti-racism, access tools, tips and more.

When you create change and new ideas, you will have to deal with poorly delivered feedback

You tried really hard, put emotional labour into your creation. It could be a new blog, report, presentation, workshop, website or gadget.

And then you start getting feedback. And this can be hard.

Change and creating something new is hard and fulfilling work. Remember – not all feedback is useful, and you don’t need to listen to everyone. But you do need to stay level-headed, even if the feedback is not easy to work through.

We want to instil discussions about the tough topics with social change makers who want to do the hard work and make change happen – the rest of this article can be found via The Innovation community.

Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash

What does success look like for you in 2021?

We’re not huge fans of new year’s resolutions. Gym, wake up earlier, starting hobbies can work for some people, but doesn’t work for others. You could set goals, make them SMART and even make a theory of change. We think this should be done quarterly (not the theory of change), but look at what you are trying to achieve as an individual across your entire life (not just work) on a quarterly basis. Continue reading

Power and compliance

You may spend a huge amount of time uplifting your teams and team members, showing empathy, listening, propelling them forward. But then a lot of what you do is outside of your control. The decisions may be made by your boss, or further up the chain. Continue reading

Why creative ideas may be rejected by change makers

If you work like us, you may have many ideas about improvements to projects/processes on the edge of the box. You might bend, break or blend other ideas. Or you could come up with amazing outside the box thinking.                                          

However, often we get knocked back by clients or other change makers,  and sometimes get frustrated.

Why can’t they see what I see? Continue reading

Do we design with a solution in mind or with a vision for our users?

We ask questions about what people’s needs are. But even by this point, we’ve narrowed down what answers we’re looking for.

We add solutions that the donors and agencies feel are necessary. We add elements of advocacy. It sometimes feels more like we’re a bad marketeer.

Whilst we’re designing new interventions and identifying needs, pressure from our managers to provide a report or other deadline lingers over us. Continue reading

We need to change how we design and choose service providers

After working across the donor, private and NGO sectors for over 15 years and being heavily involved in how procurement is designed, here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • Often communities are involved in very quick design processes (as procurement is running late) through rapid needs assessments and selective focus groups.
  • Evaluations of previous funding cycles play a critical role – evaluation teams are often made up of seasoned professionals – who may bring their own biases. Fresh ideas and diverse teams are often missing from the design process.
  • I’ve been privileged to coordinate procurement processes which involve the host government collaborating with the funders. Communities and users often have no say in which agency provides their services – they have little-no purchasing power. Perhaps I am wrong?
  • The procurement is competitive in some cases. Detailed Request for Proposals. Some agencies are funded without any procurement process at all. Often agencies feel like they are all competing for the same pot of money – so they end up providing the same kinds of services. Health agencies start providing wider services like education; education agencies start providing health services – so differentiation becomes difficult and specialisations diminish.  
  • This private sector approach tendering is mismatched with the nature of the work. The market has become narrow and focused – stifling creativity and innovation.
  • The power is with those agencies who write proposals well and can pass due diligence – so local/grass roots agencies often do not lead big projects.

Continue reading

Compliance vs change: How to shape your team culture

2020 has taught us that it’s even more important to have a strong team culture. Leaders are responsible for the organisation of team culture – but the culture is then defined by what happens when leaders are not looking. What you do, how you act as a leader, is what the culture becomes. Continue reading

Creating a sense of belonging with your teams – five essential leadership actions

Have you heard the phrases ‘best buys’, ‘investments’, ‘value for money’ or similar words that make you huff in your virtual meetings?

Sanitising our language means we dilute the many complexities of what it means to make social change happen. Continue reading